Francisco Franco

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Francisco Franco Bahamonde (4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975), commonly known as Franco (Spanish pronunciation: [fɾanˈθisko ˈfɾaŋko]), was a Spanish military general and head of state of Spain from October 1936 (whole nation from 1939 onwards), and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November 1975. As head of state, Franco used the title Caudillo de España, por la gracia de Dios, meaning Leader of Spain, by the grace of God.

From a military family, originally intent on entering the Spanish Navy, Franco instead became a soldier. He participated in the Rif War in Morocco, becoming the youngest general in Europe by 1926.[1] After returning to the Spanish mainland, he saw service suppressing an anarchist-led strike in 1934, defending the stability of Alcalá-Zamora's conservative government. Following the formation of a Popular Front government, made up of Marxist, liberal republican and anarchist factions, instability heightened. Violence between militant groups spiraled out of control with assassination of conservative parliamentary leader José Calvo Sotelo in retaliation for the killing of José Castillo.[2] Franco and his co-conspirators used Calvo's death as their pretext for war, even though they had already initiated the plan for their rebellion.[3]

Franco and the military participated in a coup d'état against the Popular Front government. The coup failed and devolved into the Spanish Civil War during which Franco emerged as the leader of the Nationalists against the Popular Front government. After winning the civil war with military aid from Italy and Nazi Germany—while the communist Soviet Union and various Internationalists aided certain forces of the left—he dissolved the Spanish Parliament. He then established a right-wing authoritarian regime that lasted until 1978, when a new constitution was drafted. During World War II, Franco officially maintained a policy of non-belligerency and later of neutrality. However, he supported the volunteer Blue Division who fought with the Axis on the Eastern Front.

After the end of World War II, Franco maintained his control in Spain through the implementation of austere measures: the systematic suppression of dissident views through censorship and coercion,[4][5] the imprisonment of ideologically opposed enemies in concentration camps throughout the country (such as Los Merinales in Seville, San Marcos in León, Castuera in Extremadura, and Miranda de Ebro),[6] the implementation of forced labor in prisons,[7] and the use of the death penalty and heavy prison sentences as deterrents for his ideological enemies.[8] During the Cold War, the United States established a diplomatic and trade alliance with Spain, due to Franco's strong anti-Communist policy. American President Richard Nixon toasted Franco,[9] and, after Franco's death, stated: "General Franco was a loyal friend and ally of the United States."[10] After his death, Spain gradually began its transition to democracy. Today, pre-constitutional symbols from the Franco regime—such as the national Coat of arms or flag with the Imperial Eagle—are banned by law in Spain.

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